Time Limit Discussion

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AuthorTopic: Time Limit Discussion
The Establishment
Member # 6
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This continues off a post made in the no discussion topic for finalized ideas. To prevent it from being bogged down, I'll continue the discussion here:

quote:
Okay, one more time:

The Heroes are sent to investigate strange occurances in Avernum town. There are no leads, but they run into some Vahnatai, who accuse them of destroying a Crystal Soul. The Heroes must decide whether to help the Vahnatai and lose precious time, or attack them to gain an artifact that would help save the town.

I've been thinking of adding a time limit. Any suggestions?

(Also on the old post):

Sorry Drakefyre, again I didn't make myself clear. The villain is NOT a homeland slith, but an old enemy of them. At a risk of providing a spoiler to all who wish to play my trilogy when it (hopefully) comes out, here is the basic storyline:

Remember Adze-Haakai? The demon who was second-in-command to Grah-Hoth in A1? While he was killed in A1, he wasn't destroyed, and has come back (remember, Grah-Hoth also wasn't destroyed, only slain). Basically, Adze-Haakai was the first to come through the gate in A3. When the Heroes came to the Tower, Adze fled (he knows how deadly Heroes can be). Adze is still obeying his master's last wishes (eternal vengance against Avernum) and does this by war-mongering. In scenario #1, it's with the Vahnatai. In #2, it's with (pending). In #3, the Heroes try stop Adze from summoning Grah-Hoth (for what, the 5th time?).

One concern I have is this: I haven't played A4 yet. Does this storyline conflict with the events in A4 (just answer YES or NO; A3 was ruined for me when I found out early who was behind things).

Generally, time limits are to be avoided unless it is central to the storyline. In Za-Khazi, a time limit made sense as the fort was besieged. Unfortunately, the time limit aspect was never a major aspect of the story as (1) the time limit was too long, and (2) it was just a series of dungeons unrelated to any sense of urgency.

The plot you have, as it appears (with talk of investigate strange occurrences), does not lend itself to a great sense of urgency. I'm sure you could justify it, virtually any scenario could, but it does not seem central. I'd say leave it out, because for it to work well, it would have to be constantly breathing down your party's neck. Remember, more is not always better!

As for the demons, my opinions on them are well known. However, I ask you these questions three:

1) Why does Adze still serve Grah-Hoth even though he has been banished?
2) Why cause trouble for the Vahnatai clan? How does this forward the primary objective?
3) What are some traits of Adze's character? How is he different from any other run of the mill thing with tough stats?

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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Triad Mage
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The time limit might work better if, for example, every 500 moves a townsperson vanished.

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Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
Shock Trooper
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Personally, I'm against time limits, be they essential to the story line or not. I like to explore every possible dark corner in every town and dungeon, and if there's someone who tells me that I might not have time for it, it really spoils everything for me. Mainly because, if there's a time limit, I speed through the scenario, not paying any attention to possible distractions - no matter how much time I have left.

[ Monday, January 16, 2006 22:24: Message edited by: Proud Owner of: ]
Posts: 353 | Registered: Monday, January 9 2006 08:00
Law Bringer
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In order for a time limit to work, you've got to be very diligent in scripting towns to change depending on the elapsed time. Rubble, dead townsfolk, charred stone... it's practically an art, and getting it to show up gradually (as with Drakey's suggestion), would be a scripting nightmare.

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Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Guardian
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Thanks a lot for the advice, *i. How does this sound:

After the incident with the Crystal Soul, the Vahnatai take the stance of 'guilty until proven innocent', and ready their assault on the other Avernum town (the one the Heroes start in, not the one with the curse). From there, the Heroes must choose between wasting valuable time looking for evidence that may not exist, or 'taking care' of the Vahnatai. I'm not sure I'm ready to drop the time limit aspect of the scenario; I think it adds to the urgency.

Also, I'm changing the look of my outdoors. The Heroes must pass through the dungeon with the Crystal Soul before they reach the cursed town they are trying to save.

I admit that Adze-Haakai's character is still weak (he probably won't make an appearance in this scenario though). One thing though: he isn't banished. He merely could make his way through the portal in A3 quicker than Grah-Hoth could. As for why he's still serving Grah-Hoth, note that he was serving him during a similar situation in A1. I have several ideas that would make him a 'memorable' villain, but nothing that would distinguish him from any other demon.

But that's why I'm on this forum. Any ideas?

(In regards to Ephesos's comment: I'm a CompSci student. Making unique scripts is one of the reasons I'm interested in the Editor.)

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Evil Necromancer: The dead aren't so bad once ... wait a second, I used that line on the last group of Heroes. Hmmm, I suppose an evil laugh will have to suffice.
Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Councilor
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It sounds like the answer is no. No in general and no for a first scenario. Maybe a first version of the scenario could be static so that the scenario is easy to design. A later version, if Dintiradan thinks that the scenario is missing something, could show the passage of time (buildings falling apart, people dying, etc.) Set time limits (for example day 14 means the party loses the scenario) are bad. Passage of time is okay to great, depending on how it is done.

Dikiyoba is personally against time limits because Dikiyoba wants to explore every corner. Dikiyoba will just rescript a scenario temporarily so that Dikiyoba can explore every cranny without having to worry about running out of time. It beats missing valuable loot or having to go through a scenario twice to hit everything.
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
The Establishment
Member # 6
Profile #6
You have still not answered my question:

2) Why cause trouble for the Vahnatai clan? How does this forward the primary objective?

The Vahnatai subplot seems superfluous right now. Explain how it relates and why the player should care. If it is superfluous, the time limit aspect adds little and probably subtracts. I'd like this part explained more.

If you reread my first question, "banished" would apply to the subject "Grah-Hoth". Grah-Hoth is gone, banished to the nether realms, why does Adze still serve him? What does he hope to gain by it?

Answering the above question would help with answering the one you asked. Think about motive most of all. I would advise it being more than "Grah-Hoth told him to be evil because demons should be evil".

[ Monday, January 16, 2006 15:03: Message edited by: *i ]

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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Master
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Although I really hate time limits and despise of them, even when justified, I think this scenario could have a time limit without any problem. The reason is totaly obvious: An army is about to attack a town. if there's no time limit, then when does the attack take place? i can't have taken place yet, or else the scenario wouldn't really have a goal anymore. If the attck will never happen, no ultimatum from the vahnatai to put pressure on you, that what of a scenario will it be? Just walk around hopelesly and the attack will never come?

Actually, this kind a reminds me of the time limits I set in my own scenario. their is a certain time limti until a town will be attacked, people will flee or be dead as a result of that, poeple will loose confidence in you... that sort a thing.

Dikiyoba: if you want to explore evry inch of the scenario, then first finish the scenario, and afterwards you can start looking at places you didn't have time to look at.

[ Tuesday, January 17, 2006 05:31: Message edited by: Thralni, Nephil translators & co. ]

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Posts: 3029 | Registered: Saturday, June 18 2005 07:00
The Establishment
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quote:
Although I really hate time limits and despise of them, even when justified, I think this scenario could have a time limit without any problem. The reason is totaly obvious: An army is about to attack a town. if there's no time limit, then when does the attack take place? i can't have taken place yet, or else the scenario wouldn't really have a goal anymore. If the attck will never happen, no ultimatum from the vahnatai to put pressure on you, that what of a scenario will it be? Just walk around hopelesly and the attack will never come?
Obvious? I'm sure one could justify a time limit in virtually ANY scenario, but that does not mean one SHOULD have one. If one makes the NPCs seem nervous and otherwise creates a world where the attack seems imminent, then it works just as well, and even better.

Of course, understanding the nature of the "attack" would make this discussion a lot better.

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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Master
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In virtually any scenario? i don't think so. in scenario's in wich there is an immediate threat, like in this one, okay. but if not, I don't see the point of a time limit. For clarification: i mean with timelimit, a certain spot in time in which major things happen, like an attck on a town. I don't mean every small change that might occur. Via those guidelines, I don't see many scenario's that really deserve a time limit.

However, I do agree that discussing this might have more use if we indeed know why they attack at all.

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Posts: 3029 | Registered: Saturday, June 18 2005 07:00
Guardian
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Sorry Stareye. I'll re-elaborate (is that a word?) on question #1, hopefully answering #2 along the way.

Unlike any other demons, the forces of Grah-Hoth believe in 'Manifest Destiny'. Ever since the sliths summoned them to Avernum, they have laid claim to it (maybe because they are outcasts in the netherworld? That would work good with the whole 'Exile' theme). Now Adze is alone in Avernum. He knows he doesn't have the power to rule it himself (his power is limited to himself, several other haakai, and several score demons). He also knows that any attempt to summon more demons (or even Grah-Hoth) would bring the attention of the Avernum army. Therefore, he plans to get as many of Avernum's old enemies fighting them again. This is why he chooses to frame a Crystal Soul's destruction on an Avernum town.

As for the time limit, I still think it's a good idea if it forces the Heroes to choose between saving the cursed town or stopping the Vahnatai. Lately, I've been thinking of scrapping the cursed town altogether (making the hook something like 'explore for mineral deposits'). As others have said, as the scenario stands, it is probably too complicated. Any ideas?

Just for you, Dikiyoba, I will make sure the Heroes have as much time as they want to mop up the dungeon(s) after the time limit is over (if the time limit still exists by then).

By the way, thanks a lot everyone for continuing to ask questions. Everytime I have to repeat myself, I change something.

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Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
The Establishment
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quote:
As for the time limit, I still think it's a good idea if it forces the Heroes to choose between saving the cursed town or stopping the Vahnatai. Lately, I've been thinking of scrapping the cursed town altogether (making the hook something like 'explore for mineral deposits'). As others have said, as the scenario stands, it is probably too complicated. Any ideas?
If your intention is to force a choice, then actually make the choice forced. If you stop the Vahnatai, then the cursed town falls, period. If you save the town, the Vahnatai do whatever bad thing they are going to do which I'm not sure exactly what it is.

If its dillema you want, be sure you make it a real and believable one with benefits and costs on both sides.

quote:
In virtually any scenario? i don't think so. in scenario's in wich there is an immediate threat, like in this one, okay. but if not, I don't see the point of a time limit.
Yes, there are some static scenarios that could do without a time limit. However, one could have easily implemented a time limit in VoDT, ASR, and DwTD had he wanted to. I could have made At the Gallows have a time limit, same with Spears. Heck, Avernum 2 and Avernum 4 could have even had a time limit.

Would it have made sense? Probably. Would it have made any of them better? Hard to say, but probably worse.

It does not take much to write in a time dilemma. However, a time limit should probably only be used in a sense where it is vitally central to the storyline. The time limit should, in a sense, be the most important character in the game. If a scenario cannot go to that level, a time limit is just an extra thing to please the designer.

[ Tuesday, January 17, 2006 14:15: Message edited by: *i ]

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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
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Originally written by Thralni, Nephil translators & co.:

quote:
Dikiyoba: if you want to explore evry inch of the scenario, then first finish the scenario, and afterwards you can start looking at places you didn't have time to look at.
If that is possible, Dikiyoba will gladly do it. But how do you propose doing that with The Za-Khazi Run? If you mean by playing the scenario through once and playing it again later, Dikiyoba has already done that.
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Master
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quote:
Originally written by Dikiyoba:

Originally written by Thralni, Nephil translators & co.:

quote:
Dikiyoba: if you want to explore evry inch of the scenario, then first finish the scenario, and afterwards you can start looking at places you didn't have time to look at.
If that is possible, Dikiyoba will gladly do it. But how do you propose doing that with The Za-Khazi Run? If you mean by playing the scenario through once and playing it again later, Dikiyoba has already done that.

I don't know this for sure, but isn't it possible to go back on the river for a small amount of time?

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Posts: 3029 | Registered: Saturday, June 18 2005 07:00
Law Bringer
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It's possible to go nearly all the way back to the start. Not all the way, but to the point where there's nothing of interest before the only waterfalls in the game.

But back on topic to Dintiradan's scenario... a question about setting: Where exactly in Avernum will this be set?

Personally, I think a good way to solve some of the "trying not to be discovered by Avernite wizards" problem would be for Adze to set up shop west of Fort Remote (closer to Kothtar's old location than to what's out there in A4), where more-or-less constant cavequakes keep the area incredibly unstable and hard to travel through safely.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is this: if Adze tries to establish himself somewhere remote, he wouldn't have to agitate everyone in order to distract Avernum. He could just act with impunity and roast the Avernites as they filed into the narrow tunnels west of Fort Remote. Besides, I would think that Adze would be just as afraid of messing with the Vahnatai as with Avernum, given their magical prowess (assuming that more of them have woken up by the scenario's start).

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Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
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quote:
Originally written by Ephesos:

It's possible to go nearly all the way back to the start. Not all the way, but to the point where there's nothing of interest before the only waterfalls in the game.
That's only possible if you killed Khoth, isn't it? If you didn't, his lair seals up behind you as you leave.

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Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Law Bringer
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quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

quote:
Originally written by Ephesos:

It's possible to go nearly all the way back to the start. Not all the way, but to the point where there's nothing of interest before the only waterfalls in the game.
That's only possible if you killed Khoth, isn't it? If you didn't, his lair seals up behind you as you leave.

Hm... it appears that I forgot that rather important detail.

In short, earlier comment retracted.

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Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.

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Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Guardian
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Thanks for the ideas Ephesos. I had planned my first scenario to take place in a newly excavated cave south of the Great Cave (for harvesting crystal), but west of Fort Remote could work as well, probably better. Unfortunately, that could involve recreating parts of A1&A2, something I'm not prepared to do (unless the A2 template is released already).

The trilogy I'm planning takes place just before A4. My premise is that the Avernum magi keep a very close magical watch on inter-dimensional travel after the events of A3. In the first two scenarios, Adze tries to create a war to avert attention for his move. In #3, the events of A4 have started, and so he begins his plans.

I might have said it in another thread, but I'm planning to use a different, smaller Vahnatai clan (either the ones in VoDT, or the ones whose crypts you keep on finding in A1).

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Posts: 1509 | Registered: Tuesday, January 10 2006 08:00
Law Bringer
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Well, you wouldn't have to reproduce that area perfectly, but CPeters' A2 Template would be a good starting place. Then you could just alter things a bit, to reflect recent cavequakes.

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Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Nuke and Pave
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I think that when discussing putting in time limits, you have to consider gameplay, rather than story. There are two distinct ideas: changing world (which is a story element) and time limit (which is a gameplay element).

These ideas don't have to be connected. You can have player's actions trigger sertain changes in the world as if these actions were done "just in time", regardless of how long the actions took. In your case, after stopping Vahnatai, player could get a message along the lines of "As you are walking back, you see the town burning in the distance. If only you could have gotten there a little sooner..."

Timelimits, on the other hand, are a gameplay element which belongs only in fast-paced action scenarios, the ones where combat and plot progression are most important and there is little dialogue and no exploration. Running around looking for the right person to ask the right question to advance the plot, or unlock a sub-quest is very frustrating if there is a clock ticking on the wall.

[ Thursday, January 19, 2006 09:51: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

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Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Law Bringer
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Hm... an interesting application of this would be a scenario in which the outdoors does change rapidly based on time. In fact, Za-Khazi would've been more interesting if cavequakes had happened every so often. I might have to try that eventually...

(Again, the West of Fort Remote area would work best here)

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Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.

I hate undead. I really, really, really, really hate undead. With a passion.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
The Establishment
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quote:
Timelimits, on the other hand, are a gameplay element which belongs only in fast-paced action scenarios, the ones where combat and plot progression are most important and there is little dialogue and no exploration. Running around looking for the right person to ask the right question to advance the plot, or unlock a sub-quest is very frustrating if there is a clock ticking on the wall.
Could not have said it better.

As far as Za-Khazi, what would have made it better had the scenario actually used the time limit as central. Instead it was always in the back of the player's mind. I doubt cave quakes would have done much to improve it as they would have appeared too random and unaffected by the time constraint itself.

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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
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The Za-Khazi Run had too many quests and exploration opportunities to seem like a linear plot-driven, time-limited scenario.

Dikiyoba.
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Master
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yes, zeviz has a point there. one thing that he, in my opinion, forgot to state, is that when using timelimits a scenario becomes ten times more interesting and realistic, if used correctly. An example I put in my own scenario:

At a certain point you discover about a man conspiring with the enemy, it's a high official. You tell this to the mayor of a certain town. now, if there wasn't a timelimit, upon telling this the traitor would immediatly be gone. Is that realistic? no. Not in my opinion. When dealing with such accustaions against a high officials, things are likely to go slwoly, so I put in a timer that makes the guy dissappear after 4 days.

A timelimt can be very useful in scenario's in which war is the present situation. Towns crumble. people flee. The only problem I found is changing the outdoors. In the docs ir is said that many terrain modification calls don't work right outdoors. but, in towns, this modification can be very handy. It may make the player tired or irritated (or frustrated, like in ZKR), but when used proparly, it makes it more interesting.

Maybe we should also ask ourselves what a timelimit exactly is. Some timelimits are better then other ones. Timelimits of which a whole lot depends, are usualy frustrating, but when the things that change aren't so big, then what is the problem? It will make things only more realistic. I think, therefor, that many scenario's will benefit from that, if they have the right plot.

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Posts: 3029 | Registered: Saturday, June 18 2005 07:00
...b10010b...
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quote:
Originally written by Thralni, Nephil translators & co.:

At a certain point you discover about a man conspiring with the enemy, it's a high official. You tell this to the mayor of a certain town. now, if there wasn't a timelimit, upon telling this the traitor would immediatly be gone. Is that realistic? no. Not in my opinion. When dealing with such accustaions against a high officials, things are likely to go slwoly, so I put in a timer that makes the guy dissappear after 4 days.
But that's not a time limit -- that's just an event on a timer. (Also, in my experience, players would tend to assume that the official not disappearing is a bug, since they're not going to wait around in the same place for days after finishing every quest just to see if anything changes as a result.)

Time limits of the "finish the scenario in 10 days or you die" kind are dangerous, and have to be handled carefully. I've made a scenario (Roots) which has such a time limit, and it's a harsh one -- the timer starts ticking right from the start of the scenario, and there's no way to stop it except by finishing the scenario.

The time limit worked okay for Roots, because it's a small scenario, and if you waste so much time that you can't finish, it won't take more than a few hours to start over and get back to where you were (hopefully more quickly next time). Even so, it frustrated a lot of players. For a larger scenario, where you might not find out that you'd effectively made the scenario unfinishable until you'd already played for a week or so, that frustration is greatly amplified.

Some people had to attempt Roots 5 times or more before they were able to get to the end within the time allowed. Some never finished. Is your scenario short enough and good enough that players are going to be willing to keep replaying it if they have trouble finishing within the time limit?

[ Friday, January 20, 2006 02:32: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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